Rhythm has always conveyed steadiness, familiarity. Rhythm is our primordial sense of pattern, our recognition of repeatability. Rhythm expresses personal and cultural attachment to what gives security. Rhythm brings us the hidden wonder of both constancy and expectancy. Like the beating of one’s heart.
To break rhythm – say, in dance, in an ensemble, an orchestra, a choir, a communal task, tradition – denotes a deliberate or an unintended rupture, and invites attention, if not enquiry. If rhythm, pattern, tempo, metre is broken intentionally, we usually assume positive, creative, restorative motivation; if by accident, then we assume inattention, carelessness, distraction, or malevolent causality. In rhythm, normally, there is security. For natural rhythm, there must be liberty, is that not so?
But what happens to rhythm when security is bargained away for freedom?
Seminarians in crisp white cassocks and ugly black masks enter the large round chapel through several of its entrances. The beautiful grounds, in a lovely suburb of Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa, are resplendent in the airy, sunny light. A fair number of laity, including me visiting from Canada, one of my daughters visiting from Poland, my sister and her teenage children, have come for Holy Mass, on the last Sunday of the liturgical year. The Novus Ordo has the solemnity of Christ the King today. Unlike my extended family, my wife and I have been assisting at the Traditional Latin Mass exclusively for two years now. In the initial quiet, reverent minutes, I notice no kneelers.
The concelebrating priests – assumedly teachers, professors at this Catholic institution of higher learning and priestly formation – process in, and touch their faces to the altar, kissing the insides of the masks distorting their faces. The choir, made up of masked seminarians, sings joyfully to the accompaniment of drumming and assorted instruments. I know this rhythm well. As Kenyans will tell me, “Uko nyumbani,” and Poles “Jesteś u siebie” – I am home. I attended the Catholic Parochial School adjacent to downtown Nairobi’s modernist Holy Family Minor Basilica a decade after Cardinal Giovanni Montini (future Pope Paul VI) visited it. I’m an alumnus of the once-notable Saint Mary’s School, Nairobi.
The sermon is about two thieves in the night, who decide to divvy their heist of bananas at the local cemetery. “So many are the bananas that two get dropped at the entrance to the graveyard.” The senior criminal proceeds to call out: “This one is mine; this one is yours,” as the fruits are divided into two piles. A local drunkard passes by and, discombobulated, runs to awaken the local priest to tell him that Our Lord and the devil are divvying up souls at the cemetery, and that Father must see it for himself. So, both are at the gate to the graveyard. The thief still counts: “This one is mine; this one is yours.” When the drunkard and Father next hear “Don’t forget the two at the entrance,” they flee in terror. “Who do you belong to? Are you Christ’s? Is Christ your King? Or do you belong to the fellow I shall not mention?” asks Father Professor, as he finishes his Viva Cristo Rey homily.
There is plenty of incense, and more rhythmic drumming. But nobody kneels before the tabernacle, which is innocuously to the side of the sanctuary. Optional bowing is the new norm here. The eight or so priests enthroned behind the altar join the congregation in clapping and swaying to the Lingala and Swahili hymns that reflect the languages spoken by many of the seminarians. At the Sanctus and Elevation, my daughter and I kneel; everyone else around us stands. Similarly, after the sung Agnus Dei, as more rhythmic music dominates instantaneously.
There are no confessionals, and there is no distribution of the Most Holy Sacrament. Instead, all the priests sit, shallow ciboria are placed at the four corners on the altar, and rows of masked communicants (seminarians, other priests, nuns, laity) file up, walk up to them, pick up the Eucharist in one hand as they momentarily pull down their muzzles with the other. It is greatly disconcerting to me. I observe the “mandatory” sacrilegious “safety procedures,” from a pained distance; Saint Don Bosco watches from a banner above. Truly, Fathers, does not anyone proclaim – and believe – “The Body of Christ”, “Amen”?
A procession with the Most Sacred Sacrament is announced at the close of Mass. We process through the grounds, as the vigorously drumming and joyfully singing choir of Congolese, Angolan, Kenyan and other gyrating seminarians – one seminarian keeling over completely as his backward lunges prove over-indulgent – precedes Father and the monstrance. I try to recall the last time I participated in or saw an outdoor procession with the Blessed Sacrament in Ontario’s Greater Toronto Area after any Novus Ordo Mass in my nook of Canada, and have trouble recalling such.
My Zambian friend – Mushota – had to have his heart checked out not too long ago. At a hospital in Markham, he joked that he is the only African he’s ever heard of that had been told he has no rhythm. Arrythmia.
I imagine the rhythms of peoples millennia ago, converting to Catholicism from paganism. Saints Paul, Thomas, Remigius, Patrick, Adalbert all encountered – and broke! – inappropriate rhythms, false patterns, wrong accents. Rhythm can be a powerful mask, a potent detractor, a fast escape from “the burden of wretchedness”, to quote Saint Ambrose. I ponder past and present enculturation of anti-Christian approaches to silence, joy, awe, sorrow, celebration, sacrifice, communion as encountered by Catholic, Latin-speaking missionaries, saints, martyrs. The reorientation of pagan ties and rhythm does need stressing where idolatry and sorcery are an unspoken danger to liturgy and theology, especially as “synodality” is thrust on communities burning witches, yes, even in Kenya today.
Rhythms can foist the gross concupiscence of distant lands, spreading them anywhere; their slick din can and does cover ill-measures thrust on the fading Kenya of Servant of God Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga, onto the glib Kenya of Lupita Amondi Nyong’o. The Irish Holy Ghost Fathers and Loreto Convent Sisters who took upon themselves the evangelization and catechization of Kenyan souls at leading Catholic schools across the land have produced a horde of brilliant experts who dominate local business and government; a throng that effortlessly fits into any global body – except the Church, where its contribution is oft rendered inconsequential. Jesus Christ is not just a personal King but must be King of all nations and societies too
My friend Mushota alluded to a stereotype about rhythm that manifests itself, perhaps unquestioned, at today’s Mass and Eucharistic procession. Over the decades, many of my Kenyan schoolmates tore off their Christian, Biblical names; few looked to sanctify ancestral names in doing so. In their “decolonizing” rejection, my friends shed a patron saint, a Catholic Feast Day. In that false liberation, they discarded an appreciation for a vast, beautiful, catholic, universal heritage, a cultural, intellectual, emotional and religious wealth that includes their – our – own. Roman, Latin, Western, Catholic liturgy so assaulted since the 1950s and 60s by non-Africans, especially Germans, Austrians and Latin Americans has – ever more openly – enemies among others who have spent years imbibing Liberation Theology, socialism, anti-Catholic Critical Race Theory much closer to home, hitherto disguised as “freedom fighters” – a veritably vile fifth column. The resultant deathly spiritual arrythmia, the untold personal and communal trauma, gnaws at so many of Kenya’s “educated”, celebrated, uprooted, globalized, TED-talking, Safari Boot-licking, FFP2/KN95/N95/Suharto/Mandela-shirt&mask-wearing, Gigiri Complex-loving glitterati.
Kenya has suffered multiple, brutal, unprovoked, shocking, deadly attacks by foreign and local Muslims who have targeted and murdered non-Muslims, especially Christians. Since the first bomb blasts in Nairobi’s downtown in 1975 maimed and killed over 40 Kenyans, some 5,648 were thus murdered, raped and/or injured by 21st November 2021. “Terrorism” has been the pacifying, all-encompassing ‘explanation.’ The governmental and corporate response to this carnage has been to target Kenyans’ civil liberties progressively and drastically. The introduction and enactment of laws and orders, culturally and juridically, follows precedent, pattern, even rhythm. Thus, covert and overt invigilation, compulsory body, metal, and car searches at mall entrances, involuntary video recording and obligatory nighttime flash photography of vehicles on Kenyan highways (courtesy of the Chinese), precede muzzling, registration, mandatory disinfection and temperature measurements, and passes for admittance to Holy Communion and Holy Mass.
Lest we be despondent, the “Fear not!” that Pope Saint John Paul II repeated every time he returned to Nairobi’s Uhuru Park is luminous in Saint Ambrose’s “On the Death of Satyrus”:
We should have a daily familiarity with death, a daily desire for death. By this kind of detachment our soul must learn to free itself from desires of the body. It must soar above earthly lusts to a place where they cannot come near, to avoid the punishment of death. The law of our fallen nature is at war with the law of our reason and subjects the law of reason to the law of error. What is the remedy? Who will set me free from this body of death? The grace of God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
I reflect on this, on thieves, error, on the sacrifice of the Holy Mass taught via the baffling example of those who (de)form it at seminaries such as this, no older than a couple fragile generations; on theology and mentality that directs Catholics to allow ourselves to look and behave the way I witness here – even as we purport to have Christ as King, to be Christ’s alone.
Where irrational fear – of contamination, of death – becomes an excuse to feign reverencing the altar, neglect kneeling at Mass, at the Transubstantiation, at the Elevation, to essentially desecrate Holy Communion, then phobias – of quiet meditation, sombre adoration, including of perennially Catholic music, of uncovered faces – turn the Ritus Romanus into a repaganized spectacle. The law of error does beget an ersatz rite wherever we prevail over the law of reason.
Father Professor – with all due respect – No! Satan does need “mention”; after all, the word from the cemetery seems “Surrender your freedom and I shall define and grant you my security.”
With, mercifully, a very low uptake of so-called “vaccinations” for the Wuhan virus in Africa, with Christmas fast approaching, Clinton-Obama-Biden Catholic apparatchik Antony Blinken is also in Kenya, to meet Catholic Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta – a Saint Mary’s School alumnus – yet again. Immediately, Kenya’s Health Secretary unrolls the latest fantastical Covid directives; the fright of “a dangerous new African variant” is meant to bludgeon Kenyans into stupor and absurd complicity – to even contemplate detention cells – “for everyone’s security”, no less. In numerous other jurisdictions, the obscene, counter-scientific, counter-cultural, counter-religious, mandatory “provision of security” results in calls for Nuremberg 2.0 trials.
Dr. Nevers Mumba says his country will be a banana republic if strenuous verification and validation of “vaccines” is not done before imposing them on Zambians. The heroic and viciously maligned Kenyan Drs Stephen Karanja and Wahome Ngare of the Kenya Catholic Doctors Association said as much about Kenya years ago, when local women were being sterilized under the guise of WHO-led inoculations and vaccinations. It took the unapologetically Catholic Polish lawyers of The Ordo Iuris Institute of Legal Culture, the brilliant Warsaw foundation that defends human dignity and rights, to halt a related onslaught on life and freedom at the brazenly misnamed 2019 International Conference on Population and Development (25th anniversary) Summit in Nairobi run by a cocktail of some of the planet’s most anti-life sponsors, all hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.
HEK-293; PER.C6; mRNA; myocarditis; terrorism. 2019’s “non-binding” Nairobi Statement, “after global consultations,” listed “promises” and “reaffirmed commitments” to a pattern, an Agenda now in full view.
Will we have Catholic shepherds who are authentically Christ’s, who do not ape drunkards and other evildoers at (to!) graveyards?
Some arrhythmia has no symptoms; other results in sudden death. Whose death, you ask, Father?
We have a doctor to heal us; let us use the remedy he prescribes. The remedy is the grace of Christ, the dead body our own. Let us then be exiles from our body, so as not to be exiles from Christ. (…) What more need be said? (…) By the death of martyrs, religion has been defended, faith increased, the Church strengthened; the dead have conquered, the persecutors have been overcome.
That’s Saint Ambrose, enemy of Arianism. The prophet Nahum, “the consoler,” bolsters us also:
The Lord is good, a stronghold on a day of trouble. He protects those who take refuge in Him, but with an overwhelming flood He will make a full end of His adversaries, and will pursue His enemies into the realm of darkness (Nah. 1:7-8).
As Kenya just celebrated its Independence Day on December 12th, Gaudete Sunday, note that Uhuru is Swahili for freedom. We know the words for complicity, medical tyranny, responsibility also.
May Our Lord grant us the strength to embrace our crosses, the courage to overcome our error. May I be ever thankful for kneelers, for the rosary, for a right rhythm.
Photo: Nairobi, Kenya – November 26, 2015. Pope Francis meets with clergy and religious on the athletic field at St. Mary’s School in Nairobi, Kenya on November 26, 2015. Credit: © L’Osservatore Romano.
 St. Ambrose “On the Death of Satyrus,” Book II, no. 47.
 Bernardo Johannes Bahlmann, Erwin Kräutler, Paulo Suess, Leonardo Boff, Jon Sobrino, Carlos Alberto Libanio Christo, Gustavo Gutiérrez, Karl Rahner, Markus Büker, Pirmin Spiegel, Cláudio Hummes, Walter Kasper, et al.
 St. Ambrose, op. cit., Book II, 40, 41.
 Below 2% in half of the 54 African countries (Burundi 0%, Democratic Rep. of the Congo 0.1%, Chad 0.4%, Cameroon 0.7%, Guinea-Bissau 1.0%, Sudan 1.3%, Burkina Faso 1.5%, United Rep. of Tanzania 1.6%, Mali 1.6%, Nigeria 1.7%, Madagascar 1.7%, Uganda 1.9%, Kenya 5%); highest in: Rwanda 22.6%, South Africa 23.8%, Lesotho 26.5%, Comoros 29.4%, Cabo Verde 44.1%, Tunisia 42.5%, Morocco 60.8%, Mauritius 71.8%, Seychelles 78.8%; sourced from “WHO Africa COVID-19 Dashboard” website.
 According to Government of Kenya statistics, well over 20.35 million “unvaccinated Kenyans” are to be denied government services by 21 December 2021, when the “disproportionate, unrealistic, unreasonable and unjustified orders” (as described in a case filed against Kenya’s Ministry of Health and Kenya’s Attorney General at the law courts in Kenya’s 2nd largest city, Mombasa) are unconstitutionally forced on Kenyan citizens.
 The Nuremberg International Military Tribunal of November 1945 – October 1946 prosecuted, tried, sentenced to death, and hanged twelve German National Socialist German Workers’ Party aka Nazi officials, including for the crimes of forced medical procedures on unconsenting individuals.
 Dr Karanja died of an undisclosed illness 29 April 2021, and the local and international media gleefully and cruelly asserted that he “had died from corona.” See their interview here, as well as this academic source, and the reports from African Globe, Washington Post, and CNS News.
 See this Polish interview, and the analysis from Ordo Iuris (here and here) as well as LifeSite.
 St. Ambrose, loc. cit., 41, 45.
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